our leadership team
R. Hugh Patterson
Musical Director and Conductor
Hugh Patterson comes to the podium of the Don Thompson Chorale with over 35 years of conducting experience, beginning with a small church choir in his senior year of high school. He received a Bachelor of Music in Voice and Conducting from Mars Hill College in North Carolina and studied conducting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He has also earned a Master of Arts in Management and is pursuing a PhD in Nonprofit Management (focusing on the performing arts). He has served as a Minister of Music in Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. He has prepared choral works as a conductor for sacred and secular performances and participated in the International Church Music Festival under the baton of Sir David Willcocks in 2002.
Patterson has been heard in recital and oratorio performances throughout the Southeast and abroad. Noted for his powerful interpretation of Mendelssohn's Elijah, Mr. Patterson made his operatic debut in 2004 singing the title role of Verdi's Rigoletto for Florida Concert Opera. He has appeared on stage with the Jacksonville Symphony in several opera presentations, most notably as Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata (2008). He has performed numerous Bach Cantatas, Handel's Messiah and the requiems of Mozart, Fauré , Verdi and Brahms as soloist or conductor. He has appeared with the Fort Worth Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Asheville Symphony and the North Carolina Symphony and has performed in London and Coventry, England. Recent performances include the First Coast Opera and the Jacksonville Public Library.
Patterson is currently employed as a business systems analyst with Black Knight Financial Services and serves as worship pastor at Jacksonville Heights Baptist Church.
Linda Edwards sang with the FJC Chorale when a vocal performance major, but has since branched out from solo roles, has studied conducting and served as church music leader and as one of the DTC co-directors from 2010 to 2014. For her day job she is a Director in Healthcare Administration.
John and Saundra Howard
John and Saundra team up to manage the chorale, which is a natural extension of their roles in Mr. T's college group, where they first met in the mid 1970's. When the singers approached Thompson about directing an ongoing community chorus in 1994, he only agreed if John and Saundra would also agree to serve as his manager and assistant director "for life." John serves as the idea factory while Saundra is the worker bee in the background. Usually John tells people no, and then Saundra makes them feel better and keeps everything going. Without their continual and ongoing efforts, the chorale would never have formed and would cease to exist, respectively.
For their day jobs, John and Saundra also work together in their business, FotoTechnika, which they created in 1981 and opened full time in 1987. For more about John & Saundra's choral history, visit John's blog.